Tips from Tour de France sprinters – How to make your bike faster

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Going fast is what attracts many people to cycling, the feeling of speed being quite addicting. But what can we learn from Tour de France sprinters about how to set up your bike for pure speed?

Get low in the front

The easiest way to make yourself faster and increase those speeds is to get further away from the wind. The most aerodynamic bike on the planet is useless if your body acts like a giant sail.

Sprinters often have very long, low frontal setups that allow them to keep their heads down while sprinting. When Cavendish sprinted against Kittel the difference in style was striking. Cavendish fell back low while Kittel simply smashed the pedals harder. The reason is that Cavendish had a much lower peak power than Kittel and therefore had to cheat the wind more than the Great German.

For those of us who don’t have the enormous peak power of Kittel, the lesson from Cavendish, and more recently Caleb Ewan, is a simple way to increase our sprint speed.

This technique takes a lot of practice and remember to keep looking ahead, instead of looking at your power numbers in detail.

Be careful when you get off. You might be a lot faster 100m, but if you throw your back just to reach the falls it won’t be great for the rest of your hike. If you change your position, take things slowly with small changes that you can adjust to.

Deep wheels

Take a look at a photo finish image of the middle sprint stage and it’s unlikely to see any wheels less than 40mm deep in the top 10.

Using deeper wheels can be more aerodynamic, making it easier to pick up speed, but they can also be much stiffer than the stock wheels, ensuring that all the power you pass through the pedals is transferred. on the road.

Stiffen things up

Sprinters are usually the biggest runners in the peloton and as a result they often demand the stiffest components. If you’re more powerful than the average racing snake, and many will be, don’t be afraid to prioritize stiffness over tiny savings in weight.

Thick carbon stems are common on the bikes of heavy riders. Stiff front components can help riders with arm muscles generate maximum power

Racers used to weld their spokes where they crossed to make them as stiff as possible. Fortunately, wheel technology seems to have progressed to such an extent that it is no longer necessary.

Big gears

While many recreational runners will have a gear ratio of 50 × 11 as their greatest gear ratio, pros normally ride 53 × 11 with sprinters increasing this to 55 × 11 when they know the sprint is going to be. exceptionally fast. If you want to hit 50mph when sprinting you will need the gears to do it.

While this sounds like a simple fix, pushing those gears does take some work and you might need a lead to level up.

I have a favor to ask

Speaking of advancements, a great way to go faster is to get yourself a sprint train. Coach a few friends and put them to work. They might not be overly enthusiastic at first, but you can usually bribe them with the promise of a cake.

Marching with friends is a lot of fun, with each person’s turn getting shorter and shorter until you end it with a glorious shot at a random sign on the outskirts of town.

Sprinter shifters

If you’ve ever seen someone’s bike and wondered what those little buttons sticking out of the bar tape are all about, you may put your troubled mind to rest. These are Sprinter Shifters on Shimano Electronic groupsets and Blips on SRAM electronic groupsets.

You can be very creative with their placement, which is great for runners who have trouble reaching the shifter buttons on normal levers. Sprinter shifters also allow the rider to maintain full grip on falls for maximum power in the sprint.

Is it aerodynamic?

In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to the aerodynamic references of components, garments and setup.

You might want to go through your choices of bikes, clothing, helmets, and accessories and ask yourself if there is anything that doesn’t quite cut the aero front.

Special attention can be paid to the handlebars, helmet, jersey and wheels.

Whereas in years past we saw jerseys and bib shorts being the norm for sprinters. Times have changed and now these are the skinsuits.

Specific training

We’ve covered training the skills used in sprinting, but you can also exert effort on and off the bike to increase your peak power. On the bike, the job can be a mix of high speed sprints with a quick cadence and standing starts where you propel a big gear from nearly stationary to maximum speed. Start a few sprints for the city road signs and you will have a basic workout.

Off the bike you can go to the gym to pump iron. You can walk past all the big boys doing bicep curls and head straight for the squat rack and leg presses. Since most of us are pretty useless at lifting weights, you’ll want to work on technique to avoid injury first before building the weight slowly.

Or just be real good like Wout

If your name is Wout van Aert you can ignore all of the above and ride the same bike you used on the mountain stage the night before while ripping some of the top climbers’ legs to win the sprint of the peloton the next day.

It’s easy when you’re really good at cycling.

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